Murthy to Infoscions: focus on productivity, intelligent software
Infosys co-founder and outgoing executive chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy Saturday told his employees (Infoscions) to focus on individual productivity and use intelligent software to survive and sustain in the IT industry.
"In any industry where work is streamlined we must be able to measure productivity of each individual. The manufacturing industry has done this a long time ago. The software industry, however, has not embraced this idea yet," Murthy said in his farewell address to employees and investors at the company's 33rd annual general meeting (AGM) here.
Asserting that employees were the company's biggest and most valuable asset, Murthy said the software industry had not kept pace with the state of the art of computer science, which had progressed to such an extent that intelligent software could be used to do a lot of work done by human effort, improve productivity and lower cost of operations.
"I believe the silver bullet for this company and this industry in the medium and long-term will be in how much of what we do today can be done faster and cheaper by employing intelligent software," Murthy told about 1,000 shareholders present at the AGM and many more through webcast.
Admitting that team work was as equally important to measure and recognise as the performance an individual, Murthy said the company had started to measure the productivity of its engineers across service lines.
"Though productivity is output produced per unit cost incurred, measuring this metric in the context of software engineer is a non-trivial effort. Productivity at individual level will help the project manager better allocate work and manage resources," Murthy noted.
With commoditisation of the company's core business increasing, Murthy said the primary differentiating factor in the marketplace would be determined by technological advances such finding efficiencies in improving in software delivery to its clients.
"I believe intelligent software is no longer an option but it is critical for the survival of the company and this industry. We live in a world where we have software that powers self-driving cars or robotic telescopes that automatically discover supernova," Murthy pointed out.
To measure each employee's productivity, the company has built an instrumentation to collect data at various points of the software development life cycle and used it (data) to build models to measure their performance.
In his parting message to employees, Murthy said though growth and change were painful, nothing was as painful as staying stuck where one does not belong.
"I request every Infoscion to think big and act boldly. We believe the culture of individuals being aware of their productivity has the potential to improve how appraisals are done, how wasted effort is reduced in projects, how we deliver software to our clients and how well we sell services to our clients," Murthy asserted.
Noting that the initiatives he took over the last 12 months would improve sales effectiveness, augment delivery, optimise costs and reduce risks arising out of external factors, Murthy said the long-term goal required the leadership to attract, empower and retain the best talent and build a multi-cultural workforce.
For the second time in three years, Murthy bid adieu to the iconic company he co-founded with four other 'smart techies' in 1981, as he stepped down from the top executive post a year after he returned to revive its sagging fortunes.
Though Murthy retired from the USD 8.3-billion IT bellwether in August 2011 on turning 65 in compliance with the policy he laid down for co-founders in executive posts, the company's board prevailed upon him to return June 1, 2013 for five years.
Dramatic appointment of renowned technocrat Vishal Sikka, former executive board member of German software product firm SAP AG, as the global software major's first outside chief executive from August 1, however, made Murthy to call it quits, cutting short his five-year tenure in his second avatar abruptly.
"I decided to exit a year after my return to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities to the new management and give a free hand to Sikka for steering Infosys into future as a marquee Indian brand in the technology space," Murthy told the shareholders.
After handover of the reins of his grown-up 'middle child' to Sikka, Murthy will become chairman emeritus again from October 11, relinquishing even as non-executive chairman, an interim post during the transition period.
"Very few people get an opportunity to add value to a great company a second time, that too after retirement," Murthy said in his farewell note to employees, clients, investors and other stakeholders.
(Posted on 14-06-2014)